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Habitat for Humanity's first volunteer
Visits the newly expanded ReStore run by Akron's Habitat for Humanity. 

Mark Urycki
Habitat's ReStore in Akron sells new and used building materials
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Friday morning a dozen volunteers for Habitat for Humanity in Akron will start a long flight to the African country of Malawi to build houses.  They’re getting a send-off this week from the very first volunteer that Habitat ever had.  And that isn’t Jimmy Carter.  WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports..

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Habitat for Humanity was formed in 1976, but Clive Rainey had already become friends with founders Millard and Linda Fuller at the Christian communal farm Koinonia in Southern Georgia.  By 1977 he became Habitat’s first volunteer in helping low income owners who didn’t have a down payment to build their own houses.

In Akron this week, Rainey helped cut the ribbon at a Habitat ReStore, where the organization sells new and used building supplies.  He noted that the original mission was to work overseas in poor countries not in America.   Now, with the housing collapse in America he says the organization is working to stablize neighborhoods where people have abandoned houses. 

The President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Akron is Rochelle Fisher, who says the organization lends the homeowners money at zero percent interest so mortgage payments are as low as 400 dollars and that helps keep struggling owners in their houses.   Habitat will even forego payments as long as the borrowers keep up with real estate taxers and insurance. 

Fisher says Habitat received some Recovery Act money that helped them build some new homes but restoring old ones is more difficult.   The organization now demolishes old houses but she says they will recycle the parts.   Doors, windows, and other usable material end up for sale at the ReStore at 2301 Romig Rd. in Akron. 

After visiting the store Clive Rainey went out with local board members to hang drywall at a project house.   He will also visit the Columbus chapter of Habitat for Humanity as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.  Then he returns to do similar work at his home in Guatemala. 

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